Iron Maiden in Croatia: Triumphant Return in a Packed Arena Zagreb!

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Photo: Jose Alfonso Cussianovich
Photo: Jose Alfonso Cussianovich

Iron Maiden is one of those bands that, year after year, continues to go around the world not only to keep their biggest hits current but also to continue offering new music to their ever-growing number of followers. Precisely, in the year 2021, they released the highly acclaimed “Senjutsu”, their seventeenth studio album. Similarly, the band led by Bruce Dickinson and Steve Harris has been offering a series of concerts around the world since 2018, as part of the Legacy of the Beast Tour.

Croatia is not a strange place for the iconic British group, since Zagreb was part of said tour in 2018. Iron Maiden planned to travel around the globe once again through the same tour, but a world event already known by all made it impossible. However, with the epidemiological situation improving in recent months, Iron Maiden announced its return to the stage with new concert dates in 2022. In December, with some dates already confirmed for the European tour, the band announced that Zagreb would be the city chosen to start the series of concerts on the continent.


Iron Maiden fans took over the streets of Zagreb on Sunday. (Photo: Jose Alfonso Cussianovich)

The venue would once again be the Arena Zagreb, where yesterday the Croatian fans demonstrated why they stand out among the most faithful, both those who have followed the band since its inception, and the youngest. The Arena Zagreb was completely full to kick off the Legacy of the Beast Tour 2022 in the best way, marking not only the return of Iron Maiden to the stages in post-pandemic times but also for music lovers in Croatia to concerts.

On a hot Sunday afternoon, the streets of Zagreb were filled with hundreds of fans wearing black t-shirts emblazoned with the Iron Maiden logo or the most iconic covers of their albums. In the trams, parks, bars, and streets of the city, it was impossible not to come across someone who wanted to make it clear that they would attend the big concert that evening. It was already a sign of what was to come.


Outside Arena Zagreb was perfect to meet up with friends before the concert. (Photo: Jose Alfonso Cussianovich)

At 19:00, the surroundings of the Arena Zagreb were covered only by hundreds of attendees, who were merrily preparing themselves with beers for the big night. Half an hour later, the capacity of the Arena Zagreb began to fill up, and the band Lord of the Lost was in charge of warming up the engines with a setlist full of their best material. With a more gothic and industrial sound, Lord of the Lost began to fill the venue with intense energy.


The German band Lord of the Lost was in charge of opening the big night. (Photo: Jose Alfonso Cussianovich)

The scenery began to change at 8:30 p.m after the presentation of the German band. The Arena Zagreb was already beginning to fill up, with chants of ”Maiden! Maiden! Maiden!”. Shortly before 9:00 p.m., the lights in the Arena Zagreb were completely turned off and the background music was muted. On the screens, a visual presentation of the video game launched by Iron Maiden that gives its name to the world tour, ”Legacy of the Beast” was shown, with the song ”Transylvania” in the background, a song widely used in the previews of the British band’s concerts.

The wait came to an end, and the legendary band would jump onto a Japanese-themed stage, and with a packed and euphoric Arena Zagreb, they played three songs from their most recent album: ”Senjutsu”, ”Stratego” and ”The Writing on the Wall”, making Zagreb the chosen city to make said songs their live debut. The more than 15,000 fans went wild when Eddie the Head, Iron Maiden’s beloved mascot of many years, jumped onto the stage like a samurai.


The songs from the new album ”Senjutsu” were performed for the first time live in Zagreb. (Photo: Jose Alfonso Cussianovich)

After the presentation of their new songs, the scenery changed radically and the band began the journey through time with “Revelations”, from the album ”Piece of Mind” (1983). It was followed by the songs ”Blood Brothers”, which they had not played live since 2017, from the album ”Brave New World” (2000), and ”Sign of the Cross”, from their album ”The X Factor” (1995). The energy of the fans at the Arena Zagreb could only increase in time.

Those three songs were followed by a much loved by the public, “Flight of Icarus”, the second song that Iron Maiden played last night from their album “Piece of Mind”. But it was surely ”Fear of the Dark”, the next song, that made the Arena Zagreb rumble. Although it is a song that they released in 1992, it is definitely a favorite among their fans and one that can never be missing from their live performances, with thousands of Croatians chanting to the sound of the initial guitar.

Two other legendary songs from the album ‘‘The Number of the Beast’’ (1982) and unmissable in their setlists would follow: ”Hallowed Be Thy Name” and ”The Number of the Beast”. Bruce Dickinson could hardly be heard with the thousands of attendees singing at the top of their lungs. Dickinson, prior to these songs, gave a motivating speech thanking his fans at the Arena Zagreb, and inviting them to leave behind the crazy events of recent years by enjoying an epic night.


In addition to great music, Iron Maiden concerts are often noted for their spectacular lights, pyrotechnics, scenery, and appearances by the band’s mascot, Eddie. (Photo: Jose Alfonso Cussianovich)

From there, Iron Maiden would play a song of the same name by the band, from their first studio album (1980), also named in the same way. ‘‘Iron Maiden’’ was the song chosen to close the first wave of their most iconic material. The lights were out, but the tireless fans always know what to expect, because there is always more. Suddenly, Bruce Dickinson would jump on stage in his World War I soldier uniform to play one of the most powerful of their songs: ”The Trooper”. The singer, who’s also a professional commercial pilot, even engaged in a sword duel with an oversized figure of Eddie the Head.


The fans wanted to take with them a great memory of an epic night. (Photo: Jose Alfonso Cussianovich)

Guitarists Adrian Smith, Dave Murray, and Janick Gers, bassist Steve Harris and drummer Nicko McBrain proved that night that they are more relevant than ever, showing the same energy that has filled festivals and concerts for more than 40 years. One from the late 90s, ”The Clansman”, continued on the setlist, and which later gave way to another classic and one that makes fans scream and sing the most: ”Run to the Hills”.


A life-size Spitfire flew over fans during “Aces High,” the final song of the concert. (Photo: Jose Alfonso Cussianovich)

Again the lights went out, and a few fans this time began to leave the Arena Zagreb, as they never imagined that their cries of ”We want more!” would actually work. The sounds of a Spitfire engine starting up at the Arena Zagreb could be heard, with Winston Churchill’s famous World War II speech in the background. Iron Maiden fans know exactly what it’s all about: “Aces High” was the song chosen to close the epic return of the British to the Croatian capital, with a huge model of a Spitfire hovering on the roof. In the vast majority of Iron Maiden concerts, this song is always chosen to start the night, so for the first time in history, they dared to use it as an epilogue to a memorable night, and what a great decision it was.


The great energy was mutual between the band and the attendees. The Arena Zagreb was a full house. (Photo: Jose Alfonso Cussianovich)

For several minutes, the massive amount of applause and screams from the fans seemed not to be enough to thank the band for so many memories and energy. The six members bowed their respective thanks to the thousands of attendees who did not disappoint and left the stage. Monty Python’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” was played in the background, making the audience dance with joy, perhaps celebrating not only an unforgettable night but also the triumphant return of the great concerts to Croatia after a pandemic that distanced them for so long.

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